Understand what you’re up against. The most common type of knife attack is a series of straight underhand thrusts to the lower abdomen, usually preceded by a grab (or at least an indexing touch) with the non-weapon hand. Since roughly 90 percent of all people are right-handed, it will probably be a right-handed attack. Ideally, however, your defense should allow you to respond to both right- and left-handed attacks with the exact same tactic. The basic “order of operations” of your defense is simple: Limit injury to you, control or redirect the attacking arm, strike your attacker effectively enough to stun or debilitate him, create distance (if possible), and, finally, draw and employ your gun, making sure to take into account the three-dimensional dynamics of the environment. The basic technique for doing this, and the core tactic of my system of counter-blade concepts (CBC), is called the “Split X.”
The first step of the Split-X tactic is the most important: not getting stabbed. As the attacking arm approaches, pull your hips back to “hollow” your abdomen. Simultaneously thrust both your arms forward so the back of your right forearm contacts the attacking arm above the elbow and the back of your left forearm makes contact below the elbow. Viewed from above, your arms cross like a letter X, but unlike a traditional martial arts “X” block, they are separated vertically. Done properly, this is an extremely powerful skeletal structure that will stop the stab decisively—even if your attacker is larger and stronger. Keep the planes of your hands vertical (thumbs up) and ensure that you make contact with the backs of your forearms. Anatomically, they consist primarily of the extensor muscles that extend your fingers. Using them preserves the flexor (inner) sides of your forearms, which power your grip and contain critical arteries.
Once you’ve stopped the stab, quickly roll your right-hand thumb down to hook behind your attacker’s elbow. This limits his mobility to the shoulder joint, prevents him from re-chambering for another stab and provides leverage for your next move. Using the hook you just achieved and the muscles in your back, pull the attacker’s elbow and pass it to the right side of your body. As you do this, allow your left hand to fold to your chest momentarily to clear a path and to chamber for a strike.
As you pass the arm to your right, your body will naturally turn in that direction and your right hip will pull back away from the path of the blade. This rotation also turns your shoulders to your right, providing a platform for you to strike the attacker in the head with your left hand. A palm strike to the temple will stun him and rock his head sideways, compromising his balance and helping to create distance. Jamming all four of your fingers into his eyes is even better, as it generates a greater effect with less force and disrupts his vision, making it difficult for him to continue to target you.
When your striking hand reaches full extension, you’ll also find that your right hand is now positioned close to your right hip and, most likely, in the vicinity of your handgun. Retract your left hand and anchor it just above your left eyebrow in a solid guard. As you do, use your right hand to clear your cover garment and achieve a good, solid grip on your holstered gun with your trigger finger straight. Raise your right elbow to lift the gun from the holster, then drop the elbow and pivot the gun to orient the muzzle toward the attacker in a tight weapon-retention position. As you do, assess the situation and your environment, looking for fields of fire, available backstops, other innocent parties and other possible attackers.
If the attacker turns back to renew his attack, or if you are still in fear for your life or grievous bodily injury, shoot to stop. If you do not have a good field of fire, move to change your position and your options. Note that your left arm guard is positioned to intercept his most likely follow-up: a backhand cut. Your weapon-retention position also gives you a downward angle for mobility-killing shots into his hip joints and pelvis while using the ground as a backstop. Finally, moving to your left—behind him—will keep you away from his knife while allowing you to extend your gun hand for more accurate shooting.
For the record, I enjoy Sean Connery movies just as much as the next guy. I also laughed out loud the first time I heard his now-famous line in The Untouchables. However, when it comes to actual training, I think the phrase “bringing a knife to a gunfight” has done more to promote complacency and a false sense of security among shooters than any other movie line in recent history.
Similarly, many shooters have spent countless hours recreating and re-validating the Tueller Drill and the so-called “21-foot rule” without ever grasping the real lesson of either: Against an attacker armed with a knife, drawing and shooting isn’t good enough. You need movement (if possible) and sound empty-hand skills to survive. In many cases, you’ll need to use unarmed tactics to stay alive long enough to even hope to bring your gun into play.
If you were going to attack someone with a knife, you would not stand 21-plus feet away and announce your intent before rushing toward your victim. You’re smarter than that. You would keep your knife hidden, use guile to get close to your target and launch your attack from close range. You would probably also choose a location for the attack that limited your victim’s movement options so he’s “penned in.”
Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who’s smart. The bad guys have also figured this out and will do everything they can to stack the odds in their favor during a knife attack. Obviously, if you maintain a high level of awareness, are prepared to recognize potential threats and pre-incident indicators, and have the skill to avoid a situation before it happens, you can avoid falling into the knifer’s trap. However, if you don’t, you’ve brought a gun to a stabbing. To use it effectively, you must mitigate the threat and survive long enough to bring it into play. And even if you get your gun into the fight, the uncertainty of handgun stopping power means that you must continue to protect yourself against the knife as you get shots on target.
The fully functional commemorative Beretta 92 Centennial pistol takes strong design cues from the...
by Personal Defense World / May 29, 2015